Re: franny and zooey [authorial intent, etc.]

From: Jim Rovira <>
Date: Sun Feb 02 2003 - 14:17:47 EST

Responses below:

> So though we might understand something of human nature in a
> very different way than did somebody far in time or space, and though in
> some cases knowledge of how they understood something might be
> irrecoverable, in my view, it is yet not impossible on principle for us to
> come to understand the way they did. We might not ultimately prefer it, and
> in some cases it might be impossible practically, but my belief is merely
> that it is not impossible on principle.

It seems to me that what we think isn't substantially different. I think we're
looking at the same subject from different angles, and I tend to emphasize
difference while you emphasize continuity.

I'd agree that it's not impossible in principle. I would say that it would be
very difficult to know when we have succeeded and when failed. We need text to
recover the thoughts of ancients, but we need to know the thoughts of ancients
to be sure we're accurately interpreting the texts.

We can proceed on inference. When people try to recover textual meaning by
making inferences about authorial intent, the most they can ever say is, "This
is the author's probable intent given X, Y, and Z." But have you really said
that much, then? And why limit the reading to the author? Wouldn't a like
minded contemporary perhaps read the text the same way?

That's why I prefer to make reference to a reading community rather than the


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Received on Sun Feb 2 14:17:46 2003

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